Two Versions of A Fable - Same Summary

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SWBAT summarize two versions of a fable and compare/contrast the differences.

Big Idea

Two versions of a fable-summarize and see if they’re the same!



I chose this book and online story because they have great illustrations and are at the 2nd grade level. It is also a version of a fable, “Town Mouse and Country Mouse”. This literature is considered classic literature and should be read as a basis for general knowledge. Compareing and contrasting versions of the same story by different authors allows students to examine the approaches that an author takes toward a story (RL.2.9). This builds content literacy and creates close readers that can evaluate the authors' purpose and theme of the story.

I have demonstrated how to summarize with this organizer in several lessons before. These lessons include Summarize and Make a Movie and Summarize and Make a Scene.

Let's Get Excited

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Bring students to a common point to start learning

  • “We have talked a lot about summarizing before. Why do we summarize literature?”
  • Take ideas -we summarize to share with a friend - someone summarizes so we can decide if we want to read the story.


Engage students

  • "Can guess this classic fable? It’s an old story that’s been retold many times.”
  • Give clues, such as ‘mouse’, ‘city’, ‘cat’, ‘country’.  If your students have read lots of fables, it will be easier for them to guess. If not, this is a great experience for them to hear a great classic.
  • “That’s right – it’s the Country Mouse and the City Mouse.  I have a video and a book to show you – 2 versions by 2 different authors. The book is called Small Mouse Big City.”  Show the book.
  • Here's an example of how I demonstrated looking at title and snuck in some predicting in a teachable moment.

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Discuss strategy

  • Show the ‘Somebody, Wanted, So, But, Then’ organizer on the whiteboard.” Preview for the kids if they have not used this before-"This is a great way to summarize. We are going to create a summary with these words."
  • Refer to the literature story headers as you talk about the story elements.
  • "The character is the 'somebody'. The action is what he/she 'wanted’ and the 'so’ is an event.  The problem is the ‘but’ and the solution is the 'then’."
  • As we read the book, think about the parts of the story. The author of the book from this video told this version of the story. When we're done reading, we will fill out the organizer to make a good summary of the video.


Demonstrate how to use the strategy

  • Show the video of the story.* 
  • Fill out the organizer talking aloud.  "Let me think.. the country mouse was the 'who' so I'll write that first. It seems that the author wrote he 'wanted' to visit his cousin, 'so' he went to the city.  'But' he didn't like it and was scared, 'so' he went back home to the country."
  • This talking aloud will help the students hear how a good readers evaluates the story. Mention the author's purpose. The crux is this lesson is to read and understand fables and to examine the purpose that different authors take when writing a fable.
  •  Write a summary statement with the words, using correct punctuation and grammar.
  • "Now I have a great summary of this version of the story, just by using that organizer."


*I chose to demonstrate the organizer with the movie version of the fable. It's harder to summarize a movie because you can't go back and check evidence or refresh a memory of what happened. The students will be using a story and I'll encourage them to think about what they saw and spend a moment looking back through the pages to refresh their memory.

Students Take a Turn

15 minutes

Explain the task

  • “Now its your turn to summarize another version of the story."
  • Look over the '' organizer again. 
  • "I'm going to read another version. This author had a different purpose when writing the story. You'll be using this same organizer, but the summary will be different." 
  • "Think about the story elements as I read (characters, action, event, problem, solution) and then you can write your summary of this version."

Students complete the task

  • Read the story aloud and jot a few words to use. "Who was the character? What was the action and big problem? What was the solution?" Here is the prompting for more vocabulary that I did to get the kids started. 
  • Remind students to use sentences (not just words) in their summary.
  • Kids fill out the organizer and write a summary statement. ** 
  • Allow students time to write the parts of the organizers and help as needed. Refer them back to the story element pictures if they are confused. ("It says 'problem' - look at the problem picture - what is that problem with the mouse?")
  • I've included some examples of a completed student organizer and student summary.
  • As the kids finish, I take ideas for the second summary for our project. Here's our completed whiteboard.


** If this is the first time your students have done this kind of summary, prompt more. I like this organizer because it's very clear and limits the language needed to summarize, but kids still may need help finding the key details.

Summarizing is a difficult skill for many students to master. Then tend to want to retell details or share personal information. This organizer is clear and simple and encourages them to focus on the main story elements, creating a nice summary. It allows them to recount this fable and determine the central message. (RL.2.2)  Using fables in the lesson allows for the kids to use stories that are considered general knowledge to practice skill. These fables tend to more complex text that the Common Core Standards ask students to read and comprehend.

Apply What You Know

10 minutes

Compare and Contrast

  • "Now let’s compare the two versions.  How are they alike? How are they different?”
  • “Classic fables like this often have a moral. - the main idea that teaches us a lesson."
  • You may want to check out video of me discussing the 2 versions with the students.

Explain the project to students

  • "Let's put all of the ideas together - the summary, a moral to the fable, and an illustration."
  • "You'll be making a small poster with the moral of one of the stories and drawing a picture of where you would want to live."
  • '"When I think about the moral of this video, I think it's 'be happy with what you have'. Are there other ideas?"  Take ideas and write them on the board... my kids also volunteered - 'Home is a good place to live' and 'The country is better than the city' and 'It's fun to visit but good to go back home.'
  • I'll write a moral at the top of my page. and draw an illustration to match the moral.
  • You may want to watch a short video of me teacher discussing her project. I contrast my thoughts and my illustration with the kids' thoughts. "You don't drive a blue car do you?". 

Students are set to task


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

For students with academic challenges, the reading difficulty is minimized because I read the book to students. They may need to work with a partner or use prompts on a slate at their desk. The poster art should be easier, but just check in with them to see if they can support their opinions.

For students with greater ability, I would expect better ideas for the retelling portion. Instead of 1-2 word answers, challenge them to bolster the vocabulary (‘he missed his old life’ v ‘he wanted to go home’.)  I would also see if they can truly support their opinions with stronger evidence. For those that choose the city, perhaps they could comment on the cool ‘sights’ or ‘exciting opportunities.’